Welcome to the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. The Department, part of the Earth Sciences Program that includes the collocated Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and climate earth sciences.
The department's research strengths are reinforced by strong collaborations leading to joint research topics with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland Departments of the Environment and of Natural Resources, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction of the National Weather Service, the NOAA Satellite and Air Research Laboratories, all of which are located near the campus.
James Carton, Professor and Chairman
Numerous and extensive changes have been observed over the Greenland Ice Sheet in response to regional warming. The coupling of surface melt and ice dynamics has an important impact on ice sheet mass loss to the ocean and sea-level rise. This summer, Dr. Derrick Lampkin has been involved in several efforts aimed at understanding these processes better. During the month of May, Dr. Lampkin participated in a field expedition to the Greenland Ice Sheet as part of his involvement in using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to continuously monitor ice movement. Dr. Lampkin was involved in collecting data and maintaining an array of five GPS receivers that are permanently embedded into the ice. These embedded antennas collect data on the displacement of ice in three dimensions, particularly during the summer months when copious amounts of surface melt water infiltrate into the ice sheet and accelerate ice movement. Dr. Lampkin collaborated with Dr. Jay Zwally (ESSIC, AOSC) and Konrad Steffen (ETH) to retrieve and process the previous seasons data.
Additionally, Dr. Lampkin has been involved in the recent discovery of a new process involved in the Greenland Ice Sheet’s supraglacial hydrology. Dr. Lampkin co-authored a work published in the Journal Cryosphere, ‘Wintertime storage of water in buried supraglacial lakes across the Greenland Ice Sheet’, detailing the discovery of water buried and persisting throughout the winter months in frozen-over supraglacial lake basins. “It was surprising for us to find water sticking around in these basins through the winter. This single phenomena could be an important organizing factor in the way surface water gets down into the ice”, said Dr. Lampkin. The persistence of buried water in the lake basins has important implications for the evolution of the supraglacial hydrology. Lake basins with persistent melt water resident throughout the winter result in a positive water balance at the start of the melt season, resulting in easily overfilling these basins and the formation of supraglacial channels that enhance the magnitude of surface melt water infiltration into the ice sheet. This work was supported through the extraordinary contributions of two our department’s undergraduates, Casey Joseph and Lynn Montgomery.